Foolish dreams in a fabled land: Living co-existence in an Israeli Arab school

Deborah Court

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    4 Scopus citations

    Abstract

    This article presents the results of an ethnographic case study of an Israeli Arab middle school whose staff and students are Arab Israelis from the Moslem, Druze, and Christian population sectors. Against the Israeli backdrop of multiculturalism, political tensions, and terrorism, this school has created a multi-faceted curriculum for teaching students the values of non-violence and peaceful co-existence, as well as creating a school culture that supports this curriculum. In essence, the explicit curriculum and implicit elements of the school culture together form a highly effective program for teaching non-violence. The elements of this program are identified as the integration of values education across the curriculum; immediate application of non-violent problem solving in any situation of conflict between students; the expectation that staff and students will not engage in gossip or slander against one another; staff speaking openly with students about difficult issues such as suicide bombings, and engaging them in thinking about the terrible consequences of violence; ongoing professional development for teachers in relevant areas; and strong, visionary leadership by the school's principal. The principal's status as a Druze in Israel is characterized through Collins' "outsider within" conceptualization, and this status, together with a dramatic incident of violence in the town, are seen as key factors motivating and animating the school's program. The author reflects on the complexities of insider-outsider status in regard to the school principal and to her own status as a Canadian, Jewish immigrant to Israel, researching an Israeli Arab school.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)189-208
    Number of pages20
    JournalCurriculum Inquiry
    Volume36
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Jun 2006

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